Saturday May 25, 2013 - The Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) now the African Union (AU) is fifty today. Fifty years since African leaders on May 25, 1963 made a historic decision to unite the continent in all spheres of human endeavour - political, economic and all things good for the people of Africa. Fifty years on Africans still need visas to move between countries as wars rage between and within countries.
Today is celebrated as Africa Liberation Day and indeed it should be - for fifty years ago in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the continent's leaders of emerging "independent" states met to cement their ideals that would give us a united and strong Africa, united in prosperity, peace and development with founding fathers from all over the continent beating their breasts in proclaiming their vision for Africa. Fifty years on - was it all talk, more talk and sheer hypocrisy as so-called independent states mortgage people and resources to the same countries and their principles Africa battled to free the people of the continent from?
The website of the African Union informs that the 21st AU summit is from the 19th to 27th May which should conveniently take in today the 50th anniversary of the founding of this pan-African body.
The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It will also be a little more than a decade since the formation of the African Union, which seeks to promote “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”. Consequently, the Heads of State declared the year 2013 the Year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.
The anniversary is expected to facilitate and celebrate African narratives of past, present and future that will enthuse and energize the African population and use their constructive energy to accelerate a forward looking agenda of Pan-Africanism and renaissance in the 21st century. It provides a unique opportunity, and comes at a moment when Africa is on the rise, and must therefore build its confidence in its future. The 50th Anniversary commemorations will be anchored by the Theme Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance. The website has quite a gem for anyone interested in speeches and whether the ideals expressed in those speeches have been translated into action. Here's an excerpt from what was delivered by Emperor Haile Selassie of the host country, Ethiopia. His speech was entitled "The Making of Africa will not wait"
"Africa is today at mid-course, in transition from the Africa of yesterday to the Africa of tomorrow. Even as we stand here, we move from the past into the future. The task, on which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they slip past into history. We seek, at this meeting, to determine whether we are going and to chart the course of our destiny. It is no less important that we know whence we came. An awareness of our past is essential to the establishment of our personality and our identity as Africans. Africa’s victory, although proclaimed, is not yet total, and areas of resistance still remain.
Today we name as our first great task the final liberating of those Africans still dominated by foreign exploitation and control. With the goal in sight and unqualified triumph within our grasp, let us not now falter or lag or relax. We must make one final supreme effort; now, when the struggle grows weary, when so much has been won that the thrilling sense of achievement has brought us near satiation.
Our liberty is meaningless unless all Africans are free. Our brothers in the Rhodesia’s, in Mozambique, in Angola, in South Africa cry out in anguish for our support and assistance. We must urge on their behalf their peaceful accession to independence. We must align and identify ourselves with all aspects of their struggle. It would be betrayal were we to pay only lip service to the cause of their liberation and fail to back our words with action to them we say, your pleas shall not go unheeded. The resources of Africa and of all freedom-loving nations are marshalled in your service. Be of good heart, for your deliverance is at hand.
What we still lack, despite the efforts of past years, is the mechanism which will enable us to speak with one voice when we wish to do so and take and implement decisions on African problems when we are so minded. The commentators of 1963 speak, in discussing Africa, of the Monrovia States, the Brazzaville Group, and the Casablanca Powers, of these and many more. Let us put an end to these terms.
What we require is a single African organisation through which Africa’s single voice may be heard, within which Africa’s problems may be studied and resolved. We need an organisation which will facilitate acceptable solutions to dispute among Africans and promote the study and adoption of measures for common defence and programmes for cooperation in the economic and social fields. Let us at this Conference, create a single institution to which we will all belong, based on principles to which we all subscribe, confident that in its councils our voices will carry their proper weight, secure in the knowledge that the decisions there will be dictated by Africans and only by Africans and that they will take full account of all vital African considerations.
We are meeting here today to lay the basis of African unity. Let us, here and now, agree upon the basic instrument which will constitute the foundation for the future growth in peace and harmony and oneness of this continent. Let our meetings henceforth proceed from solid accomplishments. Let us not put off, to later consideration and study, the single act, the one decision, which must emerge from this gathering if it is to have real meaning. This Conference cannot close without adopting a single African Charter. We cannot leave here without having created a single African organisation possessed of the attributes We have described. If we fail in this, we will have shirked our responsibility to Africa and to the peoples we lead. If we succeed, then, and only then, will we have justified our presence here.
The nations of Africa, as is true of every continent of the world, had from time to time dispute among themselves. These quarrels must be confined to this continent and quarantined from the contamination of non-African interference. Permanent arrangements must be agreed upon to assist in the peaceful settlement of these disagreements which, however few they may be, cannot be left to languish and fester. Procedures must be established for the peaceful settlement of disputes, in order that the threat or use of force may no longer endanger the peace of our continent.
If we permit ourselves to be tempted by narrow self-interest and vain ambition, if we barter our beliefs for short-term advantage, who will listen when we claim to speak for conscience, and who will contend that our words deserve to be heeded? We must speak out on major world issues, courageously, openly and honestly and in blunt terms of right and wrong.
If we yield to blandishments or threats, if we compromise when no honourable compromise is possible, our influence will be sadly diminished and our prestige woefully prejudiced and weakened. Let us not deny our ideals or sacrifice our right to stand as the champions of the poor, the ignorant, and the oppressed everywhere. The acts by which we live and the attitudes by which we act must be clear beyond question. Principles alone can endow our deeds with force and meaning.
Let us be true to what we believe that our beliefs may serve and honour us."
Sierra Leone Head of State at that 1963 historic meeting was the country's first Prime Minister the one and only Sir Milton Margai and in a very short speech entitled “There is only One Africa, and this One Africa, we are all brothers” made this point -
"We, in Sierra Leone have never believed that Africa could not be united. We have always held the hope that the differences of approach which seemed to have the appearance of creating different groups or blocks on our continent were only temporary differences. Now we are happy that, we did not hold this hope in vain.
We are happy that, by the simple fact that we are meeting here from over thirty independent States, we have been able to prove to ourselves and to show to those outside Africa who, for their own reasons, would like to see us divided, that there is only One Africa, and this One Africa, we are all brothers.
It is my view, Your Majesty and Your Excellences, that if we were to go home from this Conference having reaffirmed the fundamental basis of our Unity, and having set in motion the machinery for the structural aspects of our Unity, and having declared that we will stay united and will cooperate in every way towards the full economic, social, educational, scientific and cultural development of this our potentially great continent, our meeting will have been crowned with success.
In order, therefore, to achieve this success, I am prepared to enter into our discussions with a spirit of understanding of sympathy with views which may be different from my own views, and with a willingness to reach agreement through honourable compromise.
The whole world is watching us, and eagerly listening for the good news from Addis Ababa, that a united Africa is ready to lead in the path towards world peace and security."
It is also not lost on Sierra Leoneans and true and sincere friends of Sierra Leone that on this day 16 years ago, an awful horror was unleashed on the people of Sierra Leone. The May 25, 1997 coup by Johnny Paul Koroma and his gang took the democratic strides of Sierra Leone a great step backwards as the coup leaders announced a new military junta, the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil made up of RUF rebels and sobels serving in the army.
Among those who would be attending this 50th anniversary would no doubt be Sierra Leone's present Head of State, the smoke and mirrors trick artist, the one and only Ernest Bai Koroma whose close associates and those he has propelled into areas of prominence feeding fat on the tax payers, are the same elements of the AFRC/RUF who unleashed murder, rape, abduction and sheer terror on unarmed citizens whose only crime was to have been within the borders of the country on the night of May 25, 1997.